Last updated on Oct 14th, 2020 at 08:52 am

Worrying about your children’s diet and whether they are getting enough nutrients from what they eat is a common concern for parents

With long lists of what they should and shouldn’t eat, it’s hard to keep up anymore. Backed by National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) decision to include a serving of dairy in their school lunch, Dietician at rediscovering Dairy Maretha Vermaak says dairy is essential for children’s health and growth. 

Your kids need the nutrients in dairy to grow

Maretha says: “Over so many decades, scientific research has confirmed that dairy offers a unique nutrient that supports healthy development in children. Milk, maas, yoghurt and cheese offer specific diversity and versatility so that it is easy to find dairy options for children and ensure that your family meets the recommendation of 2 to 3 portions of dairy a day.”

Scientifically sound nutritional information is essential for families and schools. This empowers them to make good food choices and prioritise the nutritional needs of children. Understanding that calcium-rich dairy plays a vital role in bone development, not only for small children but during the teen years when bone density development is accelerated, helps parents to make sure that the family gets enough of the key nutrients provided by dairy. 

Dairy is not only a calcium-provider for healthy bones and teeth. It is an important source of affordable, high-quality protein and is packed with vitamins such as A, B2, and B12, as well as potassium and zinc.

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Dairy Ideas for Kids

No matter their income, many South African families fall short of the recommendations for 2 to 3 servings of dairy a day. However, given the versatility of dairy, it is really easy to include it in meals, snacks and drinks.  

  • Add milk or maas to oats and other porridges 
  • Add dairy to every lunchbox – cheese wedges and cheese as sandwich filling; small yoghurts; cottage cheese and yoghurt-based dips for vegetables and crackers
  • A simple toasted cheese sandwich is a firm favourite among children
  • Make delicious smoothies with milk and yoghurt with fresh fruits  
  • Add milk or buttermilk and cheeses to scrambled eggs and omelettes
  • Melted cheese topping is always a winner that goes with many savoury dishes, vegetables and bread
  • Bake with milk, buttermilk and yoghurt. Top cakes and muffins with cream cheese icing to add more nutrients to your treat
  • Make easy frozen yoghurt popsicles or pots for healthy treats
  • Replace sweetened cold drinks with milk or milkshakes made with fruits or flavoured milk

“Parents need to remember that when it comes to eating behaviour, they are the most powerful role models,” says Vermaak.

“One of the easiest ways to ensure your kids consume enough dairy is to make sure it is available at home and for them to see you enjoying dairy too.”

The National School Nutrition Programme is on board too

Through its Consumer Education Project (CEP), Rediscover Dairy partners with the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to highlight World School Milk Day. The NSNP includes dairy once a week in their school feeding programme to support South African children most vulnerable to stunting and wasting. The CEP makes fun information and teacher resources available for Grades R to 7 at http://www.dairykids.co.za/ .

Parents who are home-schooling due to COVID-19 can download curriculum-aligned interactive posters, worksheets, fact sheets and teaching guides. Children learn all about healthy eating, SA’s food-based dietary guidelines, the role of dairy in healthy eating and the farm-to-table processing of dairy.

For more dairy ideas join the Rediscover Dairy Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RediscoverDAIRY

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.